Meheres

R The Pact

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A detonation absorbed the very essence sound itself, like the reality of a dream. It ate the passing of time and suspended mere milliseconds into minutes; minutes into hours. A white hot flash took out the great Iron Oak of Kherilen, the forest city's guardian and ancient relic. Its smoldering husk coiled reflexively as the white-gold energy nibbled its outer-most edges like fires drinks paper.

 

These monsters pressed on foot after foot over so much lost life. Even Leeuwnye felt the horror touch her bones. They were completely unrelenting, driven as if by mad absolution alone, completely oblivious to the heavy taxation they burdened the very planet with. Could they not see the chaos in the elements? The way the energy of this planet swelled like inflammation of the skin? Or did they just not care?

 

She nosed out of cover and shot the beast who was armed with the explosives with her Stingshot. Hard engineered chitin projectiles pounded their armour and shredded into their skin. With their active physiology, it took a fraction of the time for the infused poison to reach their hearts and drop them dead. Helpful when facing an enemy that could endure a body full of shrapnel.

 

Quickly, Leeuwnye abandoned her position before the return fire and slid behind a hastily assembled trench on the main street. A young elf huddled there, unarmed and alone. He jumped when she scrambled by, his face all but the pure expression of fear. His mouth was open, but all that could be seen within was inky darkness; an Awakener.

 

“Hey there,†she started once she caught her breath. “What're you doing here? You need to get out of here and head south, it's safe on the other side of the river.â€

 

The boy shuddered. “No,†the statement came within her mind. A hollow conviction with the deep resonant timbre of a Shade. “I cannot.â€

 

Leeuwnye stopped and softened, her voice friendly but demanding. “What's your name?â€

 

“None. Not anymore...â€

 

The boy rose to his feet and eluded her hand so that she could not draw him back. He held out a small engraved stone; a dog tag, issued by the united elven forces. He stepped out into the open air and moved to the human forces. Their bullets ripped through his thin and soft body. His blood dispersed into mist in the air. His form did not fall, and that had them scared.

 

With an arm extended, a writhing black vapor trailed its way to their front line. In seconds, their horrible screams rose from the battlefield. Noises like wild hogs at full volume. It died away with the fading of the boy's unnatural energy, and soon both foe and assailant crumpled to the ground in putrid heaps of meat and skin.

 

Leeuwnye knew the tables had to be turn and they had to be turned now. Her entire squad was gone. The military presence was scattered. Most of the resistance came now directly from the very civilians that were fighting on the streets outside their homes.

 

Backup is on the way. That's all she could tell herself. Communications were down. She needed to find friends fast if they hoped to hold out a frontline for anyone to back up.

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Not now, not now, not now.

 

It ran through his head as a constant repeating mantra, his heartbeat racing as the branches struck his face, leaving cuts and bruises. He did not care, he did not even notice. She was behind him, they had planned this and he could not let her down, he had to keep moving, he couldn't stop. He didn't care what happened later but he had to keep control of his body for now, whatever happened. He jumped through the trees, smooth and quick, like he used to, knowing that the wrong twitch could kill him right now. He could communicate with her, however only through the means of images, both memories or fantasy, they didn't have a real language. He sent her another image, knew what was going on.

 

An image of a lion being chased by a wolf, the wolf getting nearer to the lion. Both their paws increasing speed, almost a blur to the naked eye. Soft growling coming from the lion while the wolf bit and threatened, drooling with desire.

 

She knew that he meant 'how far are they behind you, are they getting closer?', and she responded with an image of roughly the distance they were from her, using a rope bridge as a measurement device. He grunted, they were slowly moving in on her. Of course they couldn't really kill her with they standard gear, but water or explosions could be used. Somewhere far in the distance he heard the noises the invaders made when they were fighting and he knew it was time to get ready. His left hand cramped up, resisting to be moved, he grunted, it was getting worse and he couldn't control it. He hit a tree with his right hand as he jumped from it's branches to another tree, too get some of the stress out, but it didn't help much.

 

Not now, not yet, give me time, let me continue. I must, I shall, I will...

 

Before he knew it he was upon the planned location, he sighed, now all he could do was wait. He moved back against the tree he stood upon, blending in. Just as he was wondering where she was there was a huge explosion a little further ahead. He looked in a combination of disgust, sadness and rage as the beloved iron oak of a nearby town blew to a thousand pieces. He felt a tear glide down his cheek as he watched it, he felt the loss, the knew what the tree had meant to the folk living nearby, he hadn't been to the village yet but he would have been if things had been different.

 

He heard shouting and cursing nearby, voices rough and foreign, invaders. Between the trees he saw a total of fifteen, which including the twenty she was leading to him now would make a total of thirty five, a decent yield. He got his bow, an expertly crafted short bow he had once made himself after learning the art of woodbending, in a time long lost, ages ago it seemed. His hands awkwardly handled the bow, his whole body seemed to hate him now. He fumbled an arrow from the quiver, while trying to keep his balance, nocking the arrow seemed to take ages. They were just about to leave as he loosed his arrow, scraping one of the invaders in the back of the knee. The invader gave a yelp and cursed.

 

He had aimed for the neck, but his aim wasn't was it had used to be. He silently cursed at his body and wished for her to come. He stared towards the location she was supposed to come from, the invaders searching around for him now, randomly shooting a the trees. He noticed a slight slimmer of light and a smile appeared on his face, everything would go as planned. With amazing speed and grace she floated along the ground in his direction, loud footsteps from the invaders behind her.

 

She was the shape of a woman, or rather a silhouette, no real face or hair to be distinguished. She was purely made from flames, making her difficult to look at directly, her body constantly shifting. She floated a rough ten centimetres from the ground. Her flames didn't seem to have any effect on her surroundings though, leaves she would have brushed against simply moved through her outer layer, larger branches which barred her path simply moved aside, her inner core was solid. But neither leave nor branch seemed burned by her touch, simply because she didn't make it so, she had complete control over her body, an almost ironic contrast to him. It was her decision if something burned or not, if you could touch her or not.

 

She made sure the invaders he just attacked noticed her before making a straight ninety degree turn, darting into the woods not far from his location. A short while later she came back, crossing the path. However this time fire followed her, high flames artificially increased in hight by her. The burning of the forest hurt him and although he knew it was for a greater good, he couldn't forgive himself. He closed his eyes and tried to relax his body, get rid of the stress, diminishing the twitches.

 

Her pursuers finally reached the wall of fire, they started at it for a few seconds, unable to see past it. She showed herself in the midst of the fire and both sides readied their weapons. Emlinor smiled as she showed him the mental image of their poses. In a deafening folly they opened fire at her, and at the wall. Their bullets passed straight through, both through her and through the wall. It wasn't long before the first shriek was heard, then another, and more. Without knowing both sides were firing at each other, and although only one in so few bullets actually hit, within a minute both sides had only few men left standing.

 

He got up, his body better under control and he took out his spear. Readied himself and shouted. Immediately she stopped the wall of fire, letting each side see each other. They stared at each other, shocked at what they had done. Enough of an opening for him. He jumped down, spear pointed a squishy neck and struck home. He felt the spear pierce the body of the invader, stopping somewhere halfway down the torso. He took out his dagger and moved underneath the gun pointed at him, stabbing upward underneath the man's chin. For a second it looked like he was still alive, hateful eyes focussed upon Emlinor, before falling down on his knees and eventually down on the ground.

 

Emlinor turned around and saw the other four were already charred on the ground, he smiled relieved at her and received an image of a smile as response. He removed both the spear and the dagger and moved towards the location of the explosion. There was bound to be fighting there, someone who needed help. He grunted as he felt his left hand cramping again, his right hand touching his nose, driving by some unknown desire to do so. He was unable to stop it, he hated his body, but he got her in return, so it was worth it. In the few seconds of silence he once again tried to figure out a way to ask her name while only using images. He wondered if she had one, he didn't want to force one upon her. One day he would find out, maybe once there was peace, maybe then...

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Somewhere far outside the tavern walls, there was a crash. It could have been anything, but Mirova knew better. His keen ears picked up the heated crackling of splintering matter, the bass thrum of the explosion, and the reverberating final thud of a behemoth falling to its rest. The Iron Oak, Mirova concluded casually, tipping a murky liquid back into his mouth. With that gone, there went the city, not that that wasn't obvious hours ago. Those invading bastards were crafty and resilient, flooding into their world and eating away everything Mirova's kind knew to be precious and constant.This beat-up husk of a building was no exception. The patrons and even the barkeep had long since fled the chaos in the city, but that didn't deter Mirova's thirst.

 

Alas, his drink was emptied, and he set the lonely glass back down onto the countertop. He blinked once and tilted his head to the side, roughly in the direction of where Khairos was, curled up in a mangled corner of the tavern. The spirit dragon tapped its lethal tail against the wall and gave a low growl in response. Satisfied, Mirova put his mask back on. The air lately was so unclean. He hated it, especially now that his sense of smell had gotten so intense. Even pleasant scents had become overwhelming, though he would gladly take them back over the repugnant miasma the invaders brought with them. The scent of pure ruin.

 

It was difficult to think that maybe he was one of the last of his kind, but optimism had never been a virtue Mirova could say he possessed.

 

Getting up, he pinned his cloak in place and gestured with two fingers at Khairos, summoning him along to follow. It had been easy for Khairos to get inside, thanks to the doorway's complete obliteration. The invading strike on the city hadn't just concentrated on the resisting elves. Mirova's bootsteps crunched along over broken glass and stones. Even though he couldn't see them, he could smell them: the bodies of the dead all around him. Innocents going about their lives, only to be mowed down for no reason at all. This had been going on for years, but only lately had the pests grown to such massively destructive levels. A helplessness blanketed over not only the citizens, but the resistance fighters as well. Morale was at an all-time low.

 

Again, Mirova wasn't good at optimism, but what he did have was a strong will to survive. If these monsters wanted to take away everything he had, then they would have to fight him for that right.

 

Black hair and ratted cloak swirling behind him, he moved through the dead city, here and there passed by his fellows running in the opposite direction. But Mirova went towards the destruction, the noise, the blood, the excitement. Khairos's pointed scorpion legs tapped along in unison with Mirova's heeled boots. Around them the cold wind whipped into an unnatural warmth, and the air was heavy with dust and glass. Screams drifted on the breeze like ugly driftwood, growing louder with every step the pair took towards the war zone.

 

Ah, if only he could see the bloody scene before him.

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Your grandmother has gone to the Iron Oak, where it's safe. Whenever you get the chance, go and stay with her. She could use a strong young man.

 

Those were the last words Chiran had heard from his mother, before she kissed him on the cheek and fled. She had gotten out early, and her memories of her son were of the tall, dignified Chrian Windstriker, blood of his clan. It was hard to think that Chiran hadn't perpetuated the line several times over by now, but to say it was official, hardly. These weren't marrying times. These were the days of drunks and whores, and every baby got a spear and waddled to the battlefield because too soon, a whole generation would be lost.

 

The boy picked up stones where a house had turned to rubble. The smooth white stonework was a chalky dust, with some mangled smears of green where even the plant life had been massacred. Beautiful red glass, a specialty of the artisans here that used to decorate every window, roof, table and lamp post was shattered like crystal blood upon the earth. He wasn't picking the rocks up with his hands, though-- no, that was a quick way to cut himself, infect himself with the horrible chemicals the aliens brought to their planet, and die. The rocks seemed to be moving of their own bidding as Chiran stared bleakly at them.

 

There was no question it was his Grandmother's vacation house. No one had thought the Iron Oak would fall, and this had been prime real estate for hundreds of years. Finally, Chiran lifted up a thick hunk of ceiling from the floor, and gagged.

 

Clothing. Red smears. Remnants of organs that had squeezed out of places like puss from a zit. Chiran groaned like a wounded animal, and stumbled back. He hadn't exactly known where to go when he'd escaped, he didn't know what decent use to make of his powers besides keeping himself alive. He was no military boy, and, he wasn't really much of a boy anymore anyway. He felt about as weak as his girlish frame looked.

 

He ran just to burn away the emotion with no outlet. He wouldn't cry. He had that much dignity left as a man. He ran at a sprint, his feet slipping over the dusty ruin of the roads, until finally a road block entered his path. Someone was... leaving the once-tavern.

 

"Are you insane?" Chiran exclaimed, still a little high-strung. Who stopped for a drink, but a man with a death wish? Was this dark figure about to throw himself to the invasion forces and taste the world beyond?

 

"Are you... ugh..." Chiran threw his hands down to his sides. He stared it seemed one thousand miles out, but right into the eyes of that strange scorpion-tailed beast at the traveler's side. Weird pet to have at a tavern.

 

"Because I mean if you're sane, you know..." Chiran shook his head. "I'm looking for just about any path to follow, at this point."

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"Are you insane?"

 

Mirova halted beneath a proud willow, still standing elegantly even as fires raging nearby cast their eerie glow on the drooping leaves. So fixed on entering the fray, he hadn't heard the stranger approach. He twisted his head to the side, his bottomless black eyes staring off into absolute nothingness. Chiran would see that much, see what Mirova couldn't. Strands of silken hair whipped around Mirova's head, slipping past the cut of his high cheeks. If he still had irises, not to mention eyesight, he would have slid his gaze onto Chiran.

 

"Miss, you should go somewhere safer."

 

Judging by the sound of Chiran's voice alone, one couldn't really blame Mirova for the confusion. Properly raised young women usually spoke more elegantly, but these were trying times, after all. There was no need for social decorum when your community—the very heart of unspoken social rules—was dying all around you.

 

Khairos made a chattering sort of noise, clattering out from beside Mirova and moving towards Chiran. Mirova's hand, previously gripping Khairos's distinctive tail for support and a lead, slipped away to allow the dragon to sate his curiosity. Chiran didn't seem to enjoy the sight of Khairos, but the beast pressed closer nevertheless. His glowing eyes scrutinized Chiran, darting up and down and all around him. In contrast, Mirova's black hole eyes, still as a dead lake, stared off down the avenue. Khairos stopped and moved back again, sensing absolutely no threat from the feminine young man. He did nudge his snout against Mirova's gloved hand, however, trying to get his attention. He couldn't communicate with language, but he felt the need to correct Mirova's mistake.

 

Mirova didn't get the cue, however. He turned his body at last towards Chiran, then pointed off back towards the tavern.

 

"What are you still doing here?" he asked, the calm of his dark voice slightly more urgent. "They're edging around this corner. They will kill you." He could hear the invaders shooting wildly past the nearby building, and the elven shouts of the resistance trying in vain to fight them off. Mirova moved towards Chiran, then grabbed him by one delicate shoulder, shoving him physically since he seemed too stupid to move on his own. Did he not understand the gravity of the situation?

 

"Get out of here."

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Chiran let out a light scoff at being called a woman. He used to be more offended, but it had happened countless times. Men of his race were beautiful, but Chiran was a level beyond androgynous. He made it all the way to femme, and though he still wore men's attire, this asshole wasn't even looking at him.

 

No smart elf ever went around picking fights with others of their people when the whole race was set to be destroyed. Still, Chiran moved to tell him off, but words didn't make it from his mouth before the skittering beast took an interest in him. He... he was a pet, right? Some kind of nice, tame... thing? There was a time that Chiran might have been closer to it in height, but now it towered over him as it inspected him like a meal. Chiran was decidedly too hesitant in these troubled times, but if that beast had decided to attack him, it could have done so before Chiran said two words to Mirova. It was a dubious trust, but Chiran didn't want to make an enemy of the dark elf. Not if he didn't need to. Not even if he pissed him off.

 

He wasn't such a bad guy, pointing out where the enemy was coming from. Chiran's chest tightened, and he steadied himself-- and then Mirova shoved him. What the fuck was this guy's problem?

 

"They won't kill me." Chiran insisted, though he snuck almost protectively to the other side of Mirova. This guy had some armored dragonbeast, and Chiran had squishy girl flesh. Yeah, he knew what he wanted in front of him.

 

Soon the careless fire of the metalmongers was rattling their way, though, little pieces of lead tinkling along the landscape like frozen rain. Many humans had much more threatening weapons, but all of them had a lust for gunfire in excess. That much did make Chiran's life a little more difficult in a razed landscape, but as long as he had cover, the humans would fall.

 

Not that it was always helpful, but Chiran felt some resonance with the nearby battleground. Every piece of every thing that he could control, he knew it. He knew when a bullet passed three meters above his head, he could feel it vibrate as it passed through his range. Bullets moved fast, too fast, often, but it had saved his life before. For now, the best shield Chiran had was the scorpion-tailed beast, so he decided he could wait for the humans to get closer. He found a decently sized rock just to his side, and wrapped it with his mind. Forty pounds, jagged stone, two and a half meters to his left. He hurled it at their attackers, the rock accelerating to the edge of Chiran's range, and splattering two human skulls on contact.

 

He looked up expectantly at Mirova. Well, was he impressed? Little girly-boy could defend himself, right? Mirova was looking the right way, but didn't seem to have noticed a self-propelled rock. Or he was really that stoic of a guy.

 

Though Chiran was beginning to think he might be blind. How he was blind and not dead had him stumped, but Chiran pouted that his stunt went unnoticed.

 

"I'm a kinetic, dumbass."

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Oh, this maiden was a feisty one, was she? Mirova should have expected that since she was still here, in the midst of all the danger and chaos, rather than having fled days ago with her family. A blind man couldn't really be blamed for the mistake, though, could he? Mirova's head jerked subtly, like a reptile's, as Chiran moved towards him and towards the fray. The invaders had finally broken into sight, and where Mirova would usually have shadowmelded by now, he felt the chivalrous need to keep visible, so as to take the attention away from the frail girl at his side.

 

Not so frail, girl or not, as that huge rock cut through the air and took out two humans. Mirova stood there and blinked into the darkness he couldn't visualize, looking more puzzled than impressed. Clearly, Chiran had shown off to the wrong person, but luckily he was smart enough to figure out at last that this dark stranger was totally blind.

 

"Kinetic?"

 

Ah. So that explained that chilling noise. Skulls crushed under the weight of something deadly, perhaps a piece of wall or a boulder? Mirova was miffed by the girl's attitude when explaining, but there wasn't much he could do about not seeing the neat party trick. Chiran would just have to deal. Especially now that this back-and-forth battle was spilling into the avenue on which they stood, and both sides were taking notice of them. It was difficult not to notice Khairos, especially, and the beast's stinging tail rose defensively in the air.

 

"Suit yourself, miss," Mirova said then.

 

His hands moved out in front of him, and in less than a second, a dark wisp of smoke curled around his pointed fingertips. Quickly, with only the barest hint of effort in Mirova's brow, the smoke molded shape into something more substantial: a set of two jagged, short blades, their cutting edges made of what could only be dark magic. They were black but slightly translucent, like smoky quartz rock. They looked more decorative than practical, but the way Mirova handled them with confidence suggested otherwise. if Chiran wanted to know how Mirova wasn't dead yet, he was about to find out.

 

All of a sudden the tall, dark elf began to fade like a dying transmission, his entire body melting away into the shadow of the nearby building. Khairos, perfectly visible, marched forth past Chiran. His horned head turned back briefly, signaling how unsure he was about leaving Chiran on his own. He had killed with barely a flick of his fingers, however, so Khairos rushed on. Just before an elf found himself riddled with bullets from an assailant, the scorpion dragon's brutal teeth bit right into the human's neck. Briefly incapacitated, he was then met by a stab of that venomous tail spike into the soft of his belly.

 

Among the smoke of the rubble, a darker wisp materialized. In the next instant, Mirova was there, one dagger stuck into the back of an invader, and the other dagger slicing across his throat from behind. A spray of vivid blood fountained into the air and rained down onto surprised elves, but they weren't about to refuse help now, even if they didn't know where the hell that help had come from. Or where the help had gone. Before the throat-slashed man hit the ground, Mirova was gone again, nothing but a shadow moving on to his next ambush.

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    Human invaders pressed on and closed the space between them. It was starting to become difficult to squeeze off shots in their suppressive flurries, and already it was too late to direct the civilians to fall back or find new, better foritified positions. They weren't trained for combat, they were bleeding their hearts out in their retaliation and doing only what the felt possible in a high stress, high panic situation. She felt for them. This tragedy needed to come a conclusion before the Elven peoples died of grief.

    Leeuwnye scanned the battletorn town center behind her. Plenty of fallen tree limbs littered the gentle earthen pathways. Some limbs collapsed on ground-level buildings, others toppled on the tree-top buildings that had been built in their embrace; a landscape of little hiding places and temporary cover. She breathed slowly.

    A high caliber bullet passed and impacted on the naked soil façade behind her. She jumped, heart thumping in her chest with enough force to prevent a full breath. Leeuwnye sunk into the dry earth under a volley of shots aimed at her cover. There was no break in the flow, no respite between reloads, no diversion of focus. She crawled across the trench and fired another two marks into the soft flesh of the nearest humans' exposed sides.

    She paused. They were turned away from her now, facing a beast equal to their hideous forms yet constructed of the element of fire. They swirled, furious and concentrated. She considered the terrifying possibility that the humans had finally been able to harness the elements against them.

    In an instant, the humans on either side of the entity became consumed by blue flame. Agony squealed through their dying screams, only drowned out by the repugnant stench of their blistering flesh. Vile creatures.

    Chaos errupted on the other end of the field. Enemy assaults became disoriented and lacking in focus. A figured moved between them where the creature of fire had stood. Some distance away, enormous stone sailed the air and landed on a group at the far flank of human resistance. Along the edges of the scuffle, an image rippled in and out of perception and claimed a new victim with each execution. Magicians; desperate fools who forfeited funtionality for a crude sense of power. Yet they were the only reason hope seemed to mire in the well of her heart. They made more progress in less than an hour than her entire squad had made in three days.

    She squeezed off the last of her clip, reloaded, and dashed out of the trench. "Hey!" She called, but her voice would not penetrate the thunder of war. Leeuwnye made it as far as a fallen tree near the middle of the boulevard before she called out to the figure of a young and shapely woman.

    "Hey!" Leeuwnye yelled on approach. She fired at a frenzied human who charged, putting him down like a rabid animal.
    
    "Over here! You the cavalry Ranvier sent? Take a breather, it won't last for long."

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He's long since tuned out the screams. They're not important anymore. Pain was pain, whether human or elven. For him, there was only survival. The battle here was lost, and they needed to retreat. Oh, but wouldn't it be wonderful if you saved the day? The ever present voice in his head spurred him on, mocking his cowardice, but he ignored it as he ducked into an alley. Rhagnell's wishes would have to wait until he had a plan again. Gwythyr sighed as the blessed shadow gave him a breather. Even though his entire body was wrapped in cloth, the mid-day sun still burdened him more than he cared to admit.

 

The explosion - no, the mutilation of the Iron Oak had left him frightened and furious at the same time. Furious, because of the scar that the invaders had inflicted on his world. Frightened, because even his military training had not prepared him for a devastation on this scale. What was he going to do now? His squadron was mostly gone, dispersed during one of the charges, lost in the chaos of the melee. He had to find a commander, somehow, an officer. He needed to know the back-up plan. No you don't. Rhagnell piped up once more. You are my vessel. None can match your strength. You are a hero. Act like one. He ignored the voice again. Gwythyr knew that now was not the time for reckless heroics. They would only get him killed. Once he knew what the new goal was, then he could excel, and find pride and fame once more. Two invaders stumbled into his alley, and his body reacted entirely on reflex; their heads were soon a pulp against the hard walls, and they didn't even see who their assailant was. He knew then that he had to move, so he did, wrapping his clothes tighter around him as he moved back out into the beating sun.

 

When he came to his senses again, he suddenly realized he'd been running around for a long time, without a goal. People have been dying all around him, elf and man alike. But no soldiers. All of them were civilians. Somehow he'd lost sight of the frontlines and wandered into the heart of the city. Or maybe it was the other way around - maybe the frontlines had simply moved here, because the military failed. No - the military had not failed as long as he was still breathing. Gwythyr was still a soldier. Even if he was the last elf alive, he would still represent the resistance against the invaders. He would still fight. A sudden inferno made him flinch and he hid again. Another weapon of the invaders? Had they begun to firebomb the city? You idiot. Can't you feel it? That's no foreign weapon. That's magic. Rhagnell's scathing reprimand spurred him into action. If there was magic, there would no doubt be military personnel, either to contain the rogue mage or to take advantage of the support.

 

It took him a while, but Gwythyr finally reached the source of the magic. His approach slowed considerably. With his nature, even controlled sources of fire made him suspicious at best. Prevention is much better than healing, when your condition might mean that healing would never reach you in time at all. But then he saw there' was more to it. Not just a fire user, but other magic was being thrown around with the same effort a child might throw a ball. The feeling empowered him as Rhagnell's spirit urged him forward. There's your precious commander. But ignore her. Go with the mages. They're your kind. Gwythyr grunted angrily. They were all his kind. Even the uniformed elf standing in the midst of the chaos, trying to get the attention of the magic users. Trying to take charge of the situation, he realized. Good enough. It would have to do.

 

"Officer?" By the time the elf heard his voice, he'd already gotten close. "Sergeant Gwythyr Leyborn. 108th Rangers - what's left of it. Orders?"

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Despite his stern insistence that he could survive the fight, Chiran didn't seem too keen on participating it. Having proven how he made it this far, he slowed, depressed. Suddenly he but a banshee drifting in the murk; without Mirova's eyes on him (or, perception of such) he was muddled and quiet. It seemed to be a trend: only when someone crept up on him was there a flare of personality, a touch of strength enough to throw them by the neck into the rubble they had made. Off to be another smear on the earth, like his grandmother.

 

Ah... damn this body and it's weakness to emotion!

 

Chiran rubbed his eyes and ran for where Mirova had gone off to. Another elf was making her way closer to them, but wielding a gun, Chiran expected she'd be flat on the earth before they exchanged names. There had been a time where Chiran had thought the days of magic were so far behind them that only lunatics would practice it; nowadays, you were insane if you went without. There wasn't a handicap not worth the strength that it gave. That was the truth, if you wanted to survive, instead of live.

 

"D-dragon guy!" Chiran stumbled, chasing the short distance towards Khairos. He reached out, sweeping the few remaining assailants to the ground so that Khairos could jab through each like preparing a shish kebab.

 

"Hey, um..." Chiran looked from the beast's face to his own feet. For such a creepy thing, it seemed really... sweet. And maybe delicate young lasses didn't cuddle up to tall, armored scorpion-monsters, but young men tended to thing he was really fucking cool.

 

"I like you, big guy." Chiran reached tenatively towards Khairos, letting him sniff, or, whatever it was creatures him him did to get to know someone. To pretend the beast was from around here would have been hopelessly naive. He had a sneaking suspicion that Khairos wasn't stupid, either.

 

The female elf actually made it to them, much to Chiran's shock. He was even more impressed that she thought they were reinforcements-- first time anyone had given him the benefit of the doubt, really. In times like these, who wasn't a soldier? And she probably saw his party trick. Falling in behind was someone a tad more gruff, a man who seemed to fit the word soldier better than anyone else assembled. What a hulk... to someone Chiran's size, anyway.

 

"I'm Chiran..." The boy stood a little slack-jawed. He'd never had to introduce himself to military before. "I'm not exactly cavalry but, I am murdering the humans, so..." He shrugged. He'd been on his way here, and now he had nothing. He didn't want to go see if the rest of his family was fine. He looked, for a wistful moment, towards the rubble he'd been visiting, before wrenching himself back to now. Dammit, people were watching! He'd never cried a day before he became this... why now!?

 

"I'm sorry." Chiran forced between clenched teeth as he pushed his arm to his eyes. Oh, wasn't that discreet. "It just makes me furious!"

 

Yeah. Angry tears were manly.

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In the relative safety of this area, Khairos and Chiran approached the outnumbered military still left alive after the chaos. Khairos huffed out a snorty breath through his scaled nostrils, pacing over to the small elf who seemed to rely on him for cover as well as some strange comfort. That wasn't so abnormal; after all, his own master relied on him for the same thing, much like a man's camaraderie with his dog or horse. Khairos didn't mind, and moved right in to nuzzle his sturdy snout against Chiran's little hand.

 

Just before he touched, however, a hand with pointed fingertips blocked Khairos's snout from the contact.

 

His arm extended to separate Khairos and Chiran, Mirova stood there, freshly emerged from the swirling black nether that flashed into existence every time he shadowmelded. It faded away into the dusty breeze, leaving only the solid form of the scorpion-like elf. He faced the two soldiers, his bottomless eyes seeing nothing. He could only sense where they were by their footsteps, and only Chiran's exchange with them let Mirova know they were friendly. Or at least friendlier than the humans. One never knew with military types; Mirova had had quite a few run-ins with them. Annoying, considering they were all on the same side, but soldiers tended to be loose cannons, cut from a lower class cloth.

 

"You're vastly outnumbered here," Mirova said immediately. The young miss next to him was clearly no good for talking, having burst into tears. How useless. "The intelligent thing to do would be to retreat and rethink your method of attack."

 

As he said it, a stray bullet flashed past, and Mirova's head perked. The next wave of offense was coming closer, and it was growing more and more dangerous to stay here like sitting ducks, waiting to be shot for target practice. The scent of blood and gunpowder was heavy in the air, growing thicker by the second. Mirova looked back towards the soldiers before tilting his head slightly in Chiran's direction.

 

"Up to you in the end. But I'm taking my leave."

 

He let out a sharp hiss on the end of his tongue, beckoning Khairos to follow along after him. The dragon-beast hesitated a second, nudging Chiran's shoulder with his muzzle. Only then did he walk past, clattering along quickly to catch up with his retreating master. The city was no longer safe, and it would be foolish to pretend they could still hold onto it. It was lost now, in ruins, nothing but a conquest for the invaders.

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"Hey!" Chiran spun on his heel. Mirova had stopped him from sneaking a little pet on the beast before, but with a little parting nudge like that, well... it would seem rude to just be ripped apart like this. Besides the fact of how rude it was for Mirova to tell off the small military force, then cut and run. He supposed they weren't obligated to talk to them, but weren't they the people out getting slaughtered like dogs long before the invasion was even an issue? Ah, he was just a victim of some lingering civil respect.

 

Mostly Chiran didn't like to see the one friendly... whatever Khairos was, go skittering off and never to be seen again.

 

"Hey, um, sorry, but the blind guy's right." Chiran pressed his palm to each of his eyes, wiping away the last of his little fit. He had to pull it together if he wanted to catch up with them. A blind guy and a dragon-beast... seemed like the best kind of companions for a self-conscious feminine boy. And companions that wouldn't be keeling over before Chiran finished his hellos, a fate that he wasn't sure would avoid their darling military comrades.

 

"Catch up, I guess? I'm going with him." Chiran gave them a last nod before running as fast as his dainty little legs could carry him. A tall man and his beast covered a lot of distance while you yammered. He let out a full sprint, wishing more strongly than usual that he had his natural extra foot of height, still.

 

"Hey, blind guy!" Chiran called again, breathless as he closed the gap. "Let me follow you!"

 

Chiran slowed, as much as he could anyway, just to keep up with the man and his creature. He looked up at his face, not that he could say the eye contact was truly appreciated.

 

"Oh, and... I'm a man, by the way."

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